Courtesy of Reason’s Friday Funnies.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an important federalism opinion in Bond vs. U.S., discussed by Jonathan Adler:
Nonetheless, the Bond decision is interesting insofar as Justice Kennedy’s opinion for a unanimous Court restates some important federalism principles and rejects any prudential limitations on individual standing to raise federalism claims. . . .
In his opinion for the Court, Justice Kennedy cast aside an old, unclear, and since-undermined precedent upon which the Third Circuit had relied (Tennessee Electric Power Co. v. TVA (1939)) and the government’s arguments that there should be any prudential limitations on individual standing to raise federalism based claims. So long as the individual is seeking to vindicate her own constitutional interests — in this case, Bond’s interest in not being convicted of violating a statute in excess of the federal government’s constitutional authority — that the claim rests on state sovereignty does not matter. Federalism, after all, is about protecting individual liberty, not state interests as such.
Yesterday also marked the Senate’s second shot, this time successful, at the ethanol tax credit, as Jonathan Adler explained:
Today the Senate voted to repeal the ethanol excise tax credit that it saved earlier this week. By a vote of 73–27, the Senate approved the amendment offered by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Tom Coburn (R-OK). As The Hill reports, many Democrats who had voted against the measure on procedural grounds switched to support repeal today. Corn belt Senators of both parties voted against it. This does not mean the end of ethanol subsidies, however. As CNN reports:
The vote does not necessarily mean the subsidy will disappear right away. For one thing, it was adopted as an amendment to an unrelated bill that is unlikely to ever become law. However, because it crossed the coveted 60 vote threshold –the number needed to break a filibuster– it sends a strong signal that the tide has turned against continued taxpayer support for the industry.
Moreover, the Senate today rejected a proposal by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to cut off subsidies for ethanol blender pumps and storage facilities.
On a brighter note, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the third ranking Republican in the Senate, has proposed eliminating energy subsidies across the board for all “mature” technologies.
More at Reason and the WSJ. The Heritage Foundation has a related piece out declaring that Tax Increases Should Be Off the Table in Debt Limit Negotiations:
The federal government can’t be trusted with new revenues, because they will find new programs to spend it on. Congress has yet to conduct a comprehensive scale-back of programs that waste money. Just look at Senator Tom Coburn’s (R–OK) numerous reports showing the rampant waste coming from Washington, D.C.:
- Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication of Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue;
- Help Wanted: How Federal Job Training Programs Are Failing Workers;
- Wastebook 2010: A Guide to Some of the Most Wasteful Government Spending of 2010;
- Federal Programs to Die For: American Tax Dollars Sent Six Feet Under;
- Summertime Blues ; and,
- Party at the D.O.J.
These reports are strong evidence that our federally elected officials have let us down on fiscal responsibility.
Peggy Noonan’s latest column explores the GOP field in the wake of the NH debate earlier this week:
First impressions from a presidential debate are always about how things look, how people come across. Tim Pawlenty doesn’t really assert, he natters. Rick Santorum is earnest, Michelle Bachmann serious. Mitt Romney knows how he looks in every camera shot from every angle: He is a master of the cutaway shot, when the camera isn’t on him. He keeps his posture and maintains a kindly smile, as if he’s pleased the other candidate are sharing their nice little thoughts.
But the GOP debate in New Hampshire was a big success in two ways. First, there was no obvious candidate from Crazytown, which was a boon to the party’s reputation and brand, and which may help it more easily shake itself out and pick an electable candidate. In a functionally 50-50 nation and in a campaign in which Democrats hope to spend a billion dollars, this could turn into a significant benefit. Second, and more important, the foreign-policy discussion, though limited, was marked by a new sobriety. There was no spirit of adventurism, there were no burly promises of victories around the corner and lights at the ends of tunnels. It was more muted than that, more realistic, different in tone and tenor from four and eight years ago. This signaled a real shift, and a heartening one.
* * *
Among the Republican candidates for president, there is a growing awareness that America does not have a foreign policy unless we have the money to pay for it. We do not have an army unless we can fund it. We do not have diplomacy and a diplomatic structure without money. We do not have alliances and friendships sealed by aid without money. We do not go forward and impress the nations with our values, might and leadership without money.
We cannot lead, or even be an example, without money. And we are out of it. Therefore, reordering our financial life and seeing to our financial strength is the single most constructive thing we can do to create and maintain a sound U.S. foreign policy. If we want to be safe in the world, we must be sturdy at home.
Speaking of the GOP field, today’s Political Diary suggests Rick Perry would be a very welcome addition. James Freeman describes a meeting between Perry and the WSJ Editorial Board:
At our meeting he suggested shuttering the federal departments of energy and education and criticized Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan on the grounds that it doesn’t cut deficits quickly enough. Still, Mr. Perry added that “it’s a very good step in the right direction” and called Mr. Ryan “one of the Young Turks that I admire.”
If he gets into the race, Mr. Perry will be offering the Texas model of economic growth to a nationwide audience. The Lone Star State still has no income tax, and Mr. Perry and his famous predecessor have enacted a series of measures to combat junk lawsuits that have made Texas a magnet for doctors and businesses. No coincidence, Texas is the undisputed national champ when it comes to job creation, with 254,000 jobs created in the last year and more than a third of the country’s new jobs since the end of the recession in 2009.
When asked to forecast the first 100 days of a new presidential administration if American voters were to choose the Texas model, Mr. Perry sketched out a pretty picture for GOP primary voters. Mr. Perry said that assuming a GOP victory over President Obama and a Republican takeover of the Senate, the first item of business would be a repeal of ObamaCare “in totality, and a great sigh of relief would be heard across this country.” Next up would be spending cuts, and eliminating the two cabinet departments could be just the beginning. “Those are minor amounts of money but they are very symbolic,” he added.
Next on Mr. Perry’s list is a reform of corporate income taxes in order to give U.S. firms an incentive to repatriate more than $1 trillion held in offshore subsidiaries. “Give people an incentive to start investing in America again,” he said, adding that corporate taxes in general need to be restructured to encourage job creation. “There’s a lot of money out there, but people are afraid to invest it . . . because they don’t know what Washington’s going to do.”
Reason.tv’s latest video is graphic, disturbing, and important. There are a number of viable arguments against this country’s drug war, but the resulting police militarization and collateral damage from SWAT-style no-knock raids is one of the most compelling.
Visit this page to learn more background about this video and to view longer versions of the clips used.
In continuing coverage and analysis of the judicial bribery scandal playing out, Heath Haussamen earlier this week looked at the line between permissible politicking and bribery:
Richardson, a Democrat, appointed many people to judgeships and other positions who donated to his campaigns. That’s also true of some people appointed by the current governor, Republican Susana Martinez, to various positions.
There’s nothing illegal about appointing a campaign contributor to a government position. The line between politicking and bribery is crossed when there’s quid pro quo – a deal is made, an appointment is given in exchange for a campaign contribution. Or, at the very least, there has to be intent to make such a deal.
“Bribery is giving something of value, directly or even indirectly, with the intent to influence an official action,” said Doña Ana County District Attorney Amy Orlando, whose office has handed the bribery case against Murphy to a special prosecutor to avoid a conflict. “The value is irrelevant and could be a number of things, including a campaign contribution, cash under the table, or something else that has value.”